Improve business success and employee morale!

People Work for You

Elsewhere in this blog I have discussed building high performing teams, what makes people work, the psychology of achievement and some business topics along the way such as strategy, programme delivery, business growth and innovation.

If you run a business or even if you lead a team you have people ‘working for you’, now just take a few seconds to really let those words sink in….’working for you’.

Why do people work?

The reason you have people ‘working for you’ is that workload dictates that you can’t do everything and you need people who are adept or skilled at certain tasks.

What motivates you?

What motivates you?

So that’s why you need them and in return their payoff is:

  • money
  • interesting work
  • recognition
  • security
  • environment

I have also discussed discretionary contribution, the amount of effort that employees or team members can, at their discretion, apply to your task or business.

A Simple Insightful Exercise

Here’s a simple exercise, make a list all of the companies you have ever worked for and then quickly without thinking too deeply give them each a mark out of 10 for how good it  felt when you worked for them. Don’t really think about why, its important to make this as intuitive as possible. Now in another column quickly write down the name of the person ‘you worked for’, you may have had several but again quickly write the first name that comes to mind.

Now look at the single lowest score on your list and the name next to it. How much of the reason you marked it down do you think is attributable to that person?

Most people will write the list in chronological order, so there is a fair likelihood that your salary went up as you went down the list. So here’s the interesting thing, although people work for money and security, the way that the job makes you feel is largely down to the person you work for.

Think again about the person that you associated with the lowest scoring place of work.

Low Scoring Attributes

How many of the 10 attributes below describe them?

  1. Vague or unclear direction
  2. Secretive with information
  3. Reversing decisions
  4. Blaming others for failures
  5. Temper tantrums
  6. Discourteous
  7. Lack of integrity
  8. Changeable mood
  9. Claiming credit for other peoples work
  10. Threatening

I would wager you would tick at least half.

Now look at the highest score and the name of the person next to it.

High Scoring Attributes

How many of the 10 attributes below describe them?

  1. Clear decisions and direction
  2. Open information sharing
  3. Unwavering in purpose
  4. Supporting in solving problems
  5. Calm and controlled
  6. Courteous
  7. High integrity
  8. Positive mood, fun, never down
  9. Publicly recognising the achievement of others
  10. Open and receptive

Again probably at least half.

So what does this tell us? If you are in control of a business you want it to succeed, you pay your employees to work for you so to get the best out of them you need to demonstrate the High Scoring set of attributes. The same applies if you lead a team.

Some of Your Managers Work for the Competition – So set them free!

If your business is of any size you will have layers of teams and management, if you have managers and team leaders exhibiting the Low Scoring set of attributes you need to take action fast. You need to correct them quickly and if they seem incapable of change you need to set them free to go and disrupt another company. Maybe strategically it’s best they go and work for your competitor because by continuing to work for you they are already working for your competitor!

Company Values

Many companies try to encourage the High Scoring set of attributes which are really behaviours by publishing a set of values which ideally bury themselves in the subconscious of employees to make them think and behave in a certain way. This works to some extent and I would always support having a published set of values but here’s the thing. No company in the world would write a set of values that would encourage the Low Scoring attributes. Doubtless the company you scored lowest had a set of values, and I would be astounded if they didn’t look something like this:

  1. Integrity
  2. Respect for the individual
  3. Innovation
  4. Accountability
  5. Honesty
  6. Customer first

The Cloak of Compliance

So why then did the Low Scoring person you worked for not adhere to these? Did he/she think they didn’t apply to them? Did he/she think she was in fact living by them?

The chances are that he/she quite literally didn’t believe the values applied to them, they believed that they were in the position because they were good at what they do or at least they had been in the past and therefore they could write their own rules. As a manager or business owner you need to be able to spot people that are behaving like this and correct or exit them quickly.

Were these people like this when you hired them? Yes probably. Why didn’t you or the interviewing panel spot it? The person simply put on the cloak of compliance which they discarded as they felt comfortable in the job.

Beware Low Morale

You want your company or team to succeed so you need to be alert for this kind of behaviour since unchecked it will reduce morale, reduce output and reduce the success of your business!

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